More Gun Violence Afflicts Black Communities

The news:

The Illinois State Rifle Association sued the City of Chicago in June to end the city’s gun ban after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law forbidding handgun possession in Washington, D.C.

Behind the news:

African Americans in Illinois were 4.5 times as likely as white people and nearly three times as likely as Latinos to die a violence-related firearm death between 2000 and 2005, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gun violence killed more than 24 African Americans per 100,000 during this period, compared to more than five white people. Latinos died at a rate of about 8.4 per 100,000.

No single factor causes this disparity, said John Hagedorn, professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago. But he pointed out that a sense of resentment–”toward the police, authority and society as a whole–”can lead to violent resolutions to many disputes, and this might be contributing to the high rates of gun violence among African Americans. Within black communities, he said, “people don’t trust the system at all.”

Chicago accounts for much of the violence in Illinois–”about 65 percent of the homicides were in the city, according to CDC and U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics data.

The Rev. Robin Hood, a Chicago community activist, said he wants tougher state and federal laws focused on “guns that are used for nothing but killing people” and more severe penalties for so-called “straw purchasers” who buy guns elsewhere and bring them into the city. “They’ve got a worse deterrent on drugs,” he said.

Hagedorn said such rules will have to be adopted by all communities for them to have any impact. Until then, he said, “nobody’s going to get rid of their guns.”

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